Tag Archives: baking

Banana Bread


I have a bad habit of buying fruit and then neglecting it. I’ll purchase a few pieces, stick them in the refrigerator, eat fruit for a few days, and then promptly forget that said fruit ever existed. A few weeks later, I may come across a few stray apples or an orange and wonder “Where did these come from?”. The good news is that when I want to make some sort of baked good which requires fruit, I may very well have it laying around. Today’s banana bread recipe was chosen on the basis of cleaning the refrigerator: I found two bananas, and decided that this would be an excellent use for them. Waste not, want not.

Unlike store-bought preparations, this bread isn’t overly sweet. The flavor of the bananas comes through nicely without being overpowered by added sugar. I might add a little bit of cinnamon next time I make this recipe, but it’s perfectly moist and delicious as it is.


  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup mashed banana
  • 3 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.


In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar, shortening, and eggs.


Add the banana and buttermilk, and mix well.


Sift in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, add the nuts to the mixture, and stir until blended.


Pour the batter into a well-greased loaf pan.

Bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the bread comes out clean.


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Cookie Jar Ginger Snaps


Just about every recipe from my great-grandmother is guaranteed to be good. This one certainly lives up to expectations; I think I may need to put a lock on the cookie jar to keep myself out. While I was taking the “finished” picture of these cookies, I ate at least three of them. It may have been more, I’m not quite sure. The flavor balance is everything I could want in a classic ginger snap… spicy and sweet, with a ginger “bite” that doesn’t overpower, and a very mild salt finish.

You have been warned: addictive recipe ahead.

I advise not cutting corners when baking these cookies. Go ahead and sift the dry ingredients twice. It is mildly time-consuming, but the final texture is well worth it: incredibly crisp and crunchy, but light as a feather. By the same token, do cream together the sugar and shortening before adding everything else. This step works even more air into the final dough, ensuring the desired degree of lightness.


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon ginger
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 1 cup white sugar, plus more to coat dough balls
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup molasses


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.


Sift together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt twice.


In a large bowl, cream together the shortening and sugar.


Mix the egg and molasses into the shortening mixture.


Add the sifted dry ingredients, mixing well.


Form the dough into 1-inch balls, and roll in excess sugar.


Place the dough balls 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet.

Bake for 12-13 minutes, or until the bottoms are golden brown.


Makes 3 dozen cookies.

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Onion Brunch Bread


So what do you do with creamed corn, anyway? Many people do not like it. The texture is a turn-off. The last time I donated canned goods to a food pantry, there was a sign up requesting “please, no creamed corn”. I have never had a good answer to this question before today.

This recipe for Onion Brunch Bread has been sitting in my pile for several weeks now. I kept meaning to make and photograph it, but I continued to put it off because doing so would require me to purchase a can of creamed corn. I finally gave in and made the bread, and I’m glad that I did. It is far, far better than any other creamed-corn-containing dish that I have ever tried… primarily because the creamed corn is no longer creamy. :)

I am not sure that I would strictly classify this as bread: while there is a bread substrate at the bottom, a fork is required as the onion and sour cream layer is still quite soft after baking. It’s more like a topped cornbread. That said, the flavor is really quite good: the creamed corn lends sweetness to the mix without overpowering it, and dill brings out the delicious dairy notes on top.


  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 (8-ounce) carton sour cream
  • 1/ 4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dill weed
  • 1 teaspoon prepared mustard
  • 1 1/4 cups shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1 (8 1/2-ounce) package corn muffin mix
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 (8 3/4-ounce) can creamed corn
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.


In a large skillet, sauté the onion in the butter until tender.


In a medium bowl, combine the sour cream, salt, dill weed, prepared mustard, and 1/2 cup of the Cheddar cheese with the cooked onions, and mix well.


In a separate bowl, combine the corn muffin mix, egg, milk, creamed corn, and hot sauce.


Spoon the corn muffin mixture into an 8” x 8” x 2” baking dish.


Gently spread the onion mixture over the batter, and sprinkle the top with the remaining 3/4 cup of Cheddar cheese.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until firm in the center.


Serves 6.

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Chocolate Almond Pinwheels

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Oh hey, a tasty cookie recipe! And just in time for Valentine’s Day! You’d think I planned it that way. (Actually, I didn’t. I don’t celebrate the holiday. I just like cookies. :) ) These are a bit of work to put together, but they’re quite good once baked. The cookies are quite small – about 1.25 inches in diameter at the largest – but I guarantee that you won’t want to eat just one. Chocolate-wise, the flavor isn’t terribly strong, but the almonds come through nicely and add extra crunch. It’s like eating a small, round biscotti. Enjoy these with a nice cup of coffee or tea.


  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds
  • 1 ounce baking chocolate, melted



In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar.


Add the egg yolk, milk, and vanilla, and mix well.


Stir in the flour, salt, and baking powder.


Add the almonds, and mix well.

Divide the dough into two equal parts, and mix the melted chocolate into one part. (I had a picture of the chocolate dough, but my camera completely messed up – results not fixable in Photoshop. Oh well!)

Chill the two dough halves for at least an hour.

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Roll out both halves on a floured surface until 1/8 inch thick, working quickly.


Place the chocolate dough on top of the white dough and press together with the rolling pin. Don’t worry if the dough tears during this process and must be “patched together”: once you slice the cookies, everything will look just fine.


Roll up the dough along the longest side.

Wrap the roll in aluminum foil, and chill for several hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.


Slice the dough into 1/8 inch slices, and place on a greased cookie sheet.

Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, or until cookies are light brown on the bottoms.


Makes 4 dozen cookies.

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Araby Spice Cake

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This is a recipe clipped from the Norman Transcript, and published in that paper alongside its “lightened” version. Due to the column layout, I have cropped the images for clarity of reading; the original recipe is the only one shown here. While the lower-calorie and lower-fat version sounded intriguing, the “fat-full” recipe caught my eye. Cocoa, vanilla, lemon, and nuts? My interest was piqued; I knew that I had to bake this cake. Besides, the nutrition facts on the original aren’t that extreme – any dessert I could order at a restaurant would be much worse for me. Rationalization (and baking) ahoy!

After baking, I still have no idea what makes this cake “Arabian”, but it certainly is good! The flavor is nuanced, and a little hard to describe. If you have ever had windmill cookies, imagine that same taste combined with a light, springy texture. It is not overly sweet, but it is interesting – in the good way, not in the Chinese proverb way. :) When I make spice cake from a box, I usually frost it with cream cheese frosting; after tasting this cake, I decided to simply serve it with whipped cream.


  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons baking cocoa
  • 1 7/8 cups all-purpose flour (yes, I know, it’s an odd measurement… just go with it)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.


Grease and flour a 13” x 9” baking dish, and set aside.


Cream together the shortening and sugar until fluffy.


Add the eggs one at a time, beating between each addition.


Add the vanilla extract, lemon extract, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cocoa, and mix well.


Add the flour,  baking powder, and baking soda alternately with the buttermilk, and mix well.


Stir in the nuts.


Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Serve with whipped cream.


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Cottage Cheese Rolls

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Cottage cheese, caraway, and orange juice? Do these ingredients really go together? Why not! This is definitely an older recipe: I found it reprinted in The Saturday Citizen, July 29, 1976 (thank you Google News!). My guess is that the recipe column of interest was probably syndicated somewhere closer to home. The printing style on my copy is slightly different, and I doubt that any of my family members were collecting recipes from Canadian publications. Still, I can at least pin down the dish to a specific era.

Nearly 38 years later, this recipe has not lost its charm. I found it very easy to prepare, and pleasant to eat – surprising for a “low-calorie” food! In texture, the rolls are remarkably springy and light. The flavor of the caraway comes through clearly against a background of citrus, and the cottage cheese lends a tender texture without adding too much fat. Serve these rolls with light poultry dishes, soups, salads, and fresh flowers.


  • 1/4 cup warm orange juice
  • 1 envelope active dry yeast
  • 1 cup creamed cottage cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange rind
  • 1 tablespoon grated onion
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 2 1/3 cups sifted all-purpose flour



In a large bowl, mix together the orange juice and the yeast.


Mix in the cottage cheese.


Add the caraway seeds, sugar, orange rind, onion, salt, baking soda, and egg, and mix well.


Beat in the flour gradually, until completely blended.

Cover the dough with a towel and allow to rise in a warm place until double, about 1 hour.


Stir down the dough, and divide it evenly among 12 greased muffin cups.

Cover the dough again, and allow to rise in a warm place until double, about 45 minutes.

Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 minutes, or until the rolls are golden brown.


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Buttercrust Flake-Aparts

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This is one of the best dinner roll recipes that I have ever come across. It is a little challenging to make, but the result is entirely worth the time and trouble. These rolls are light, springy, and incredibly flavorful. There is no need to butter them: simply serve warm from the oven, and enjoy.

The original recipe from my great-grandmother calls for the buttermilk to be scalded before use. I did some reading on the process, and discovered this wonderful article at Ochef. The article states that there are three main reasons to scald milk products: to kill harmful bacteria (which are no longer an issue, due to modern pasteurization), to warm up the milk before use, and to destroy proteins which may interfere with the rising process. I imagine that my great-grandmother was more interested in the first two reasons. For my own convenience, I did not scald the buttermilk when making this recipe, but I did warm it in the microwave before use. I can safely say that there was no negative impact on the “fluffiness” of the rolls: they rose just fine.


  • 2 packets yeast
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 1/4 cups warm buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted, plus more to brush with later
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 1/2 cups sifted flour



In a medium bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water.


Add the warm buttermilk, sugar, melted butter, and salt, and mix well.


Add the flour and baking soda, and mix well.

Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place until double, about 1 hour.


Roll out the dough on a well-floured surface to a thickness of 1/4 inch.


Cut the dough into strips 2 inches wide.


Brush the strips with melted butter.


Stack five strips together, and slice into 1-inch pieces. The dough will be very soft and stretchy, which will make the stacking process difficult. Don’t worry if the dough stack looks a little unmanageable: this will not make any difference in the final product.


Place the slices into greased muffin tins, cut side down, and brush with melted butter.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Let the rolls rise in a warm place until double, about 30 minutes.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.


Makes 18 rolls.

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Oatmeal Cookies


Oatmeal cookies were one of my favorite treats when I was a kid. They were fun to make, and even more fun to eat. This is the same recipe that my mother used; it is titled “Jenny’s Oatmeal Cookies”. I do not know for certain who Jenny was, but she made a very fine cookie.

The cookies will be light and mildly chewy, if you cream the shortening and sift the flour. If these important steps are overlooked, the end product will still taste great, but the texture will be very dense. I don’t have any more notes on this recipe, because it is so simple to make. Anyone can bake these great oatmeal cookies – and should!


  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups rolled oats


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.


In a large bowl, cream the shortening.


Add the white sugar and brown sugar, and mix well.


Add the eggs and vanilla extract, and mix well.


Sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt, and add to the mixture.


Stir in the oats.


Form the dough into 1 inch balls, and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes, or until the cookies are golden brown on the bottoms.


Makes 5 dozen cookies.

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French Onion Bread

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I love to bake. I really do. There is something satisfying about the process of making a mixture with friendly microorganisms, kneading the daylights out of it, and watching it grow. During the colder months, when the days are short and it seems like there’s nothing to do, making a loaf of bread can really brighten my day. The end product is delicious, too. :)

This recipe was a first-time effort for me, and I’m remarkably pleased with the results. The onion flavor is present without being overpowering, and the texture of the bread is just right – not too light, not too dense. The yield is also substantial: 2 good-sized long loaves. This would be a wonderful bread to serve with almost any meal… especially French onion soup.


  • 1 packet dry yeast
  • 2 1/4 cups warm water, divided
  • 1 envelope dry onion soup mix
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons shortening
  • 5 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 egg white



In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup of warm water.


In a medium pot, combine the onion soup mix and the remaining 2 cups of water over medium heat.


Simmer the onion soup mixture, covered, for 10 minutes.

Remove the onion soup mixture from the heat, and pour into a large bowl.


Add the sugar, salt, Parmesan, and shortening, mix well, and allow to cool to lukewarm.


Add the yeast mixture and 2 cups of flour, and mix well.


Add the remaining 3 1/2 cups of flour to make a stiff dough (use more or less if needed).


Knead the dough on a floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 8-10 minutes.


Place the dough in a greased bowl, and turn to grease all sides.

Cover and let the dough rise until double, about 1 1/2 hours.


Punch down the dough, divide it in half, and shape into 2 long loaves.


Place the loaves on a greased baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal, and make diagonal gashes with a sharp knife along the top of the loaves, approximately 1/8 to 1/4 inch deep.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cover the loaves and let rise until double, about 1 hour.

In a small bowl, mix the egg white and a small amount of water.

Bake for 20 minutes, brush the loaves with the egg white mixture, and bake for 10 minutes longer, or until done.


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Cheese Biscuits


This is a very old recipe from my great-grandmother. The original card has disintegrated so much around the edges that the title is nearly illegible. Fortunately, the directions and ingredients remain intact. Materials may decay, but they knowledge that they contain can be preserved.

Most modern biscuits come in the form of a tube of pressurized dough. Making them from scratch is a worthwhile art, but it is not widely practiced. The result of this culinary ebb is that many modern cooks do not own a set of biscuit cutters.  Fortunately, there are many ways to work around this problem. Washed tin cans of various sizes work well to cut biscuits. So does the rim of a small glass. For this recipe, since the directions specifically called for a “small” cutter, I used the bottom diameter of a drinking glass as my template, and cut out the biscuits with a sharp knife. They ended up being approximately 1 1/2 inches in diameter.

I wish I knew what a “small” cutter was in my great-grandmother’s kitchen. Her recipe states that it will yield 12 biscuits, but even at the 1 1/2 inch size, I only got 9. I won’t complain, though – they were delicious! The texture was light and enjoyable, and the cheese flavor was noticeable without dominating the experience. Next time I make tomato soup, I’m making a double batch of these biscuits to go with it.


  • 1 cup sifted flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon shortening
  • 1/2 cup grated Cheddar cheese
  • 3/8 cup milk


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.


Add the baking powder and salt to the flour, and sift together into a medium bowl.


Cut in the shortening and the cheese.


Add the milk to form a soft dough.


Roll the dough out on a floured surface to a 3/8 inch thickness.


Cut out the biscuits with a small cutter, or use one of the methods described above.

Bake for 8 minutes, or until golden brown on the bottom.


Makes 9 biscuits.

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